Adler On


Most people use the word "dogmatism" in it's dyslogistic sense. They forget that the word "dogma' has a good meaning in dogmatic theology, referring to the articles of religious faith.

In philosophy, however, dogmatism is totally inappropriate. Everything that is asserted or denied must be submitted to rational inquiry that seeks to establish it with certitude or probability.

There are some philosophical positions that affirmation of which are beyond the power of reason to establish. An example is the main thesis of ontological materialism, that nothing really exists except bodies and their physical transformations. That thesis, being a denial, therefore is a negation, and as such it is in demonstrable.

Most of the contemporary scientists and professors of philosophy who embrace materialism unquestioningly do so without a logical qualm. They mistakenly think that the evidence of their senses tell them that all observable phenomena are physical. Of course, that is correct, but it does not prove that only observable phenomena are real. There is no evidence that reality does not and cannot include the immaterial and the nonphysical. To assert that it does not and cannot is sheer dogmatism, of a kind that should be avoided in philosophy.

Truth in Religion (1990,1992).

Adapted from
Adler's Philosophical Dictionary (1995)

Revised 17 December 2000